In Malissa Chapin’s debut novel, The Road Home, Cadence Audley has started a new life with a new name—for the second time. Her past has dogged her steps, but she’s determined to lead a quiet, peaceful life in Deercrest, Wisconsin. She’s found a good job as a barista with a great boss. Antique stores in the area fulfill her taste for vintage purchases.
On one such shopping trip, Cadence finds an old recipe box filled with hand-written recipes. Her coworker Googles the name written inside the box and found that the owner had lived in town. Thinking to return a valued heirloom, Cadence finds Fredonia, the middle-aged daughter of the recipe box owner. Fredonia had donated the recipe box in the first place and is not thrilled to see it again—or Cadence, for that matter. But, upon learning that Cadence likes antiques, Fredonia invites the younger woman to drive with her to Kentucky to help clean out her mother’s home.
Fredonia’s offer comes just in time, because Cadence’s past has caught up with her—again.
This is a split-time novel. The second timeline belongs to Ida Beale Evans, owner of the recipe box. She had been a banker’s daughter in Indiana when she married her sweetheart, Bud, and moved with him to his new pastorate in Kentucky. Though she enjoys life as a country preacher’s wife, she has one sorrow. Suddenly one night, her deepest desire is unexpectedly fulfilled—but to keep it will call for a lifetime of secrecy.
Though Ida is a Christian and Cadence is not, both women struggle with trusting that the truth will set them free. The truth seems like it will destroy them. But Cadence has come to the end of her road. Can she escape and start over yet again? Or must she face her past and its consequences, even though doing so means losing everything she holds dear? Can she trust the young preacher who tells her, “Your sin caused problems everywhere, but God is bigger than this. He’s big enough to help you live a new life” (Location 3415, Kindle version).
I enjoyed following the journey of both women and the truths they learned. I also enjoyed the sense of place in the book, especially the Kentucky sections. There was a nice mix of both funny and poignant moments in the story. Sprinkled throughout the book are recipes from Ida Beale’s box. It was fun to learn on Malissa’s blog what inspired the pink Cadillac road trip in the book and to peruse her Pinterest board for the people and items that inspired or contributed to the story.
As of this writing, the Kindle edition is $2.99, but a paperback version is also available.